Francis Bacon.

The works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) online

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silk, straw, and wood, would flame a little, till they
came to the wax, and then go out : of the other three,
the thread consumed faster than the cotton, by a sixth
part of time : the cotton next, then the rush consumed
slower than the cotton, by at least a third part of time.
For the bigness of the flame, the cotton and thread cast
a flame much alike ; and the rush much less and dim-
mer. Query, whether wood and wicks both, as in
torches, consume faster than the wicks simple ?

371- We have spoken of the several materials, and
the several wicks : but to the lasting of the flame it
importeth also, not only what the material is, but in
the same material whether it be hard, soft, old, new, etc.
Good housewives, to make their candles burn the
longer, use to lay them, one by one, in bran or flour,
which make them harder, and so tliey consume the
slower : insomuch as by this means they will outlast
other candles of the same stuff almost half in half.
For bran and flour have a virtue to liarden ; so that
both age, and lying in the bran, doth help to the lasting.
And we see that wax candles last longer than tallow
candles, because wax is more firm and hard.

372. The lasting of flame also de])endeth upon the
easy drawing of tlie nourishment ; as we see in the
Court of England there is a service wliich they call
Allnight ; which is as it were a great cake of wax, with
the wick in the midst ; wliercby it cometli to pass.


that the wick fetcheth the nouidshment farther off.
We see also that lamps last longer, because the vessel
is far broader than the breadth of a taper or candle.

373. Take a turreted lamp of tin, made in the
form of a square ; the height of the turret being thrice
as much as the length of the lower part whereupon
the lamp standeth : make only one hole in it, at the
end of the return farthest from the turret. Reverse
it, and fill it full of oil by that hole ; and then set it
upright again ; and put a wick in at the hole, and
lighten it : you shall find that it will burn slow, and
a long time : which is caused, as was said last before,
for that the flame fetcheth the nourishment afar off.
You shall find also, that as the oil wasteth and de-
scendeth, so the top of the turret by little and little
filleth with air ; which is caused by the rarefaction
of the oil by the heat. It were worthy the observa-
tion, to make a hole in the top of the turret, and to
try when the oil is almost consumed, whether the air
made of the oil, if you put to it the flame of a candle,
in the letting of it forth, will inflame. It were good
also to have the lamp made, not of tin, but of glass,
that you may see how the vapour or air gathereth by
degrees in the top.

374. A fourth point that importeth the lasting of
the flame, is the closeness of the air wherein the flame
burnetii. We see that if wind blowcth upon a candle,
it wasteth apace. We see also it lasteth longer in a
lanthorn than at large. And tlicre are traditions of
lamps and candles, that have burnt a very long time
in caves and tombs.

375. A fifth point that importeth the lasting of
the flame, is tlie nature of the air where the flame
burnetii ; whether it be hot or cold, moist or dry.
The air, if it be very cold, irritateth the flame, and
maketh it bum more fiercely, as fire scorchcth in fros-
ty weather, and so furthcreth the consumption. The
air once heated, I conceive, maketh the flame burn
more mildly, and so helpcth the continuance. The
air, if it be dry, is indifix^rcnt : the air, if it be moist,
doth in a degree quench the flame, as we see lights


will go out in the damps of mines, and howsoever
maketh it burn more dully, and so helpcth the con-

Experiments in consort touching burials or infusions of
divers bodies tn earth.

376. Biuials in earth serve for preservation ; and
for condensation ; and for induration of bodies. And
if you intend condensation or induration, you may
bury the bodies so as earth may touch them : as if
you will make artificial porcelane, etc. And the like
you may do for conservation, if the bodies be hard and
solid ; as clay, wood, etc. But if you intend preser-
vation of bodies more soft and tender, then you must do
one of these two : either you must put them in cases,
whereby they may not touch the earth ; or else you
murst vault the earth, whereby it may hang over them,
and not touch them : for if the earth touch them, it
will do more hurt by the moisture, causing them to
putrify, than good by the virtual cold, to conserve
them ; except the earth be very dry and sandy.

377. An orange, lemon, and apple, wrapt in a linen
cloth, being buried for a fortnight's space four feet
deep within the earth, though it were in a moist place,
and a rainy time, yet came forth no ways mouldy or
rotten, but were become a little harder than they were;
otherwise fresh in their colour ; but their juice some-
what flatted. But with the burial of a fortnight more
they became putrified.

378. A bottle of beer, buried in like manner as be-
fore, became more lively, better tasted, and clearer than
it was. And a bottle of wine in like manner. A bottle
of vinegar so buried came forth more lively and more
odoriferous, smelling almost like a violet. And after
the whole month's burial, all the three came forth as
fresh and lively, if not better than before.

379. It were a profitable experiment to preserve
oranges, lemons, and pomegranates, till summer : for
then their price will be mightily increased. This may
be done, if you put them in a pot or vessel well cover-
ed, that the moisture of the earth come not at them ;

VOL. I. 2 b


or else by putting them in a conservatory of snow.
An;l generally, whosoever will make experiments of
cold, let him be provided of three things ; a conserva-
tory of snow ; a good large vault, twenty feet at least
under the ground ; and a deep well.

380. There hath been a tradition, that pearl, and
coral, and turquois-stone, that have lost their colours,
may be recovered by biu'ying in the earth : which is a
thing of great profit, if it would sort : but upon trial
of six weeks burial, there followed no effect. It were
good to try it in a deep well, or in a conservatory of
snow ; where the cold may be more constringent ;
and so make the body more united, and thereby more

Experimc?if. solitary touching fhe effects hi mens bodies
from severed winds.

381. ]\Iens bodies are heavier, and less disposed to
motion, when southern winds blow, than when nor-
thern. The cause is, for that when the southern
winds blow, the humours do, in some degree, melt and
wax fluid, and so flow into the parts ; as it is seen in
wood and other bodies, which, when the southern
winds blow, do swell. Besides, the motion and activity
of the body consisteth chiefly in the sinews, which,
when the southern wind bloweth, are more relax.

Experiment solitary touching winter and summer sicknesses.

382. It is commonly seen, that more are sick in the
summer, and more die in the winter ; except it be in
pestilent diseases, which commonly reign in summer or
autumn. The reason is, because diseases are bred,
indeed, chiefly by heat ; but then they are cured most
by sweat and purge ; which in the summer cometh on
or is provoked more easily. As for pestilent diseases,
the reason why most die of them in summer is, be-
cause they are bred most in the summer : for other-
wise those that are touched are in most danger in the

Experiment solitary touching pestilential seasons.
. .S8.S. The general opinion is, that years hot and


moist are most pcstilciU ; upon tlic superficial ground
that heat and moisture cause putixTaction. In Eng-
land it is not found true ; for many times there have
been great plagues in dry years. AVhereof tlie cause
may be, for that drought in the bodies of islanders
habituate to moist airs, doth exasperate the humours,
and maketh them more apt to putrify or inflame : be-
sides, it taintetb tlie waters, commonly, and maketh
them less wholesome. And again in Barbary, the
plagues break up in the summer months, when the
weather is hot and dry.

Experiments solitary touching an error received about
epidemical diseases.

384. Many diseases, both epidemical and others,
break fortli at particular times. And the cause is
falsely imputed to the constitution of the air at that
time when they break forth or reign ; whereas it pro-
ceedeth, indeed, from a precedent sequence and series
of the seasons of the year : and therefore Hippocrates
in his prognostics doth make good observations of the
diseases that ensue upon the nature of the precedent
four seasons of the year.

Experiment solitary touching t/w alteration or preserva-
tion of liquors in wells or deep vaults.

385. Trial hath been made with earthen bottles
well stopped, hanged in a well of twenty fathom deep
at the least ; and some of the bottles have been let
down into the water, some others have hanged above,
within about a fathom of the water ; and the liquors
so tried have been beer, not new, but ready for drink-
ing, and wine, and milk. The proof hath been, that
both the beer and the wine, as well within water as
above, have not been palled or deaded at all ; but as
good or somewhat better than bottles of the same
drinks and staleness kept in a cellar. But those which
did hang above water were apparently the best ; and
that beer did flower a little ; whereas that under wa-
ter did not, though it were fresh. The milk soured
and began to putrify. Nevertheless it is true, that
there is a village near Blois, where in deep caves they

2 E 2


do thicken milk, in such sort that it becometh very
pleasant : which was some cause of this trial of hang-
ing milk in the well : but our proof was naught ;
neither do I know whether that milk in those caves
be first boiled. It were good therefore to try it with
milk sodden, and with cream ; for that milk of itself
is such a compound body, of cream, curds, and whey,
as it is easily turned and dissolved. It w^ere good
also to try the beer when it is in wort, that it may be
seen whether the hanging in the well will accelerate
the ripening and clarifying of it.

Experiment solitary iojiehing slutting.

386. Divers, we see, do stut. The cause may be,
in most, the refrigeration of the tongue ; whereby it
is less apt to move. And therefore we see that na-
turals do generally stut : and we see that in those that
stut, if they drink wine moderately, they stut less, be-
cause it heateth : and so we see, that they that stut
do stut more in the first offer to speak than in conti-
nuance ; because the tongue is by motion somewhat
heated. In some also, it may be, though rarely, the
dryness of the tongue ; which likewise maketh it less
apt to move as well as cold : for it is an affect that
cometh to some wise and great men ; as it did unto
Moses, who was lingua prcepeditce ; and many stut-
ters, we find, are very choleric men ; choler induc-
ing a dryness in the tongue.

Experiments in consort touching smells,

387. Smells and other odours are sweeter in the
air at some distance, than near the nose ; as hath been
partly touched heretofore. The cause is double : first,
the finer mixture or incorporation of the smell : for we
see that in sounds likewise, they are sweetest when we
cannot hear every part by itself. The other reason
is, for that all sweet smells have joined with them some
earthy or crude odours; and at some distance the
sweet, which is the more spiritual, is perceived, and
the earthy reacheth not so far.

388. Sweet smells are most forcible in dry sub-


stances when they are broken ; and m likewise in
oranges and lemons, the nipping of their rind giveth
out their smell more ; and generally when bodies arc
moved or stirred, though not broken, they smell more;
as a sweet-bag waved. The cause is double : the one,
for that there is a greater emission of the spirit when
way is made ; and this holdeth in the breaking, nip-
ping, or crushing ; it holdeth also, in some degree, in
the moving : but in this last there is a concurrence of
the second cause ; which is the impulsion of the air,
that bringeth the scent faster upon us.

389. The daintiest smells of flowers are out of
those plants whose leaves smell not ; as violets, roses,
wall- flowers, gilly-flowers, pinks, woodbines, vine-
flowers, apple-blooms, lime-tree-blooms, bean-blooms,
etc. The cause is, for that where there is heat and
strength enough in the plant to make the leaves odo-
rate, there the smell of the flower is rather evanid and
weaker than that of the leaves ; as it is in rosemary
flowers, lavender flowers, and sweet-briar roses. But
where there is less heat, there the spirit of the plant
is digested and refined, and severed from the grosser
juice, in the efflorescence, and not before.

390. Most odours smell best broken or crushed, as
hath been said ; but flowers pressed or beaten do lose
the freshness and sweetness of their odour. The cause
is, for that when they are crushed, the grosser and
more earthy spirit cometh out with the finer, and
troubleth it ; whereas in stronger odours there are no
such d^rees of the issue of the smell.

Mxperimenls in consort touching the goodness and choice
of water.

391. It is a thing of very good use to discover the
goodness of waters. The taste, to those that drink
water only, doth somewhat : but other experiments
are more sure. First, try waters by weight ; wherein
you may find some difference, though not much : and
the ligliter you may account the better.

392. Secondly, try them by boiling upon an equal


fire ; and that which consumeth away fastest you may
account the best.

393. Thirdly, try them in several bottles or open
vessels, matches in every thing else, and see which of
them last longest without stench or corruption. And
that which holdeth unputrified longest, you may like-
wise account the best.

39-i. Fourthly, try them by making drinks strong-
er or smaller, with the same quantity of malt ; and
you may conclude, that that water which maketh the
stronger drink, is the more concocted and nourishing ;
though perhaps it be not so good for medicinal use.
And such water, commonly, is the water of large and
navigable rivers ; and likewise in large and clean
ponds of standing Avater ; for upon both them the sun
hath more power than upon fountains or small rivers.
And I conceive tliat chalk-water is next them the
best for going farthest in drink : for that also help-
eth concoction ; so it be out of a deep well ; for
then it cureth the rawness of the water ; but chalky
water, towards the top of the earth, is too fretting ; as
it appeareth in laundry of dotlies, which wear out
apace if )^ou use such waters.

395. Fifthly, the housewives do find a difference
in waters, for the bearing or not bearing of soap : and
it is likely that the more fat water will bear soap
best ; for the hungry water doth kill the unctuous na-
ture of the soap.

396. Sixthly, you may make a judgment of wa-
ters according to the place whence they spring or
come : the rain-water is, by the pliysicians, esteemed
the finest and the best ; but yet it is said to putrify
soonest ; which is likely, because of the fineness of the
spirit: and in conservatories of rain water, such as
they have in Venice, etc. they arc found not so choice
waters ; the worse, perhaps, because they arc covered
aloft, and kept from the sun. Sno\v-water is held
unwholesome ; insomuch as the people that dwell at
the foot of the snow mountains, or otherwise upon
the ascent, especially the womcii, by drinking of snow-


water, Ihavc great bags hanging under their throats.
^Vell-vvatcr, except it be upon chalk, or a very plen-
tifiil spring, maketh meat red ; wliich is an ill sign.
S})rings on the tops of high hills are the best : for
l)oth they seem to have a lightness and appetite of
mounting ; and besides, they are most pure and un-
mingled ; and again, are more percolated through a
great space of earth. For waters in valleys join in
effect under ground with all waters of the same le-
vel ; whereas springs on the tops of hills pass through
a great deal of pure earth ^vith less mixture of other

397. Seventhly, judgment may be made of waters
by the soil whereupon the water runneth ; as jiebble
is the cleanest and best tasted ; and next to that,
clay-water ; and thirdly, water upon chalk ; fourthly,
that upon sand ; and worst of all upon mud. Nei-
ther may you trust waters that taste sweet ; for they
are commonly found in rising grounds of great cities ;
wliich must needs take in a great deal of filth.

Experiment solitary touching the temperate heat under
the equinoctial.

398. In Peru, and divers parts of the West Indies,
though under the line, the heats are not so intolerable
as they be in Barbary, and the skirts of the torrid
zone. The causes are, first the great breezes wliich
tlie motion of the air in great circles, such as are un-
der the girdle of the world, produceth ; which do re-
frigerate ; and therefore in those parts noon is nothing
so hot, when the breezes are great, as about nine or
ten of the clock in the forenoon. Another cause is,
for that the length of the night, and the dews there-
of, do compensate the heat of the day. A third cause
is the stay of the sun ; not in respect of day and night,
for that we spake of before, but in respect of tlic sea-
son ; for under the line the sun crosseth the line, and
maketh two summers and two winters, but in the
skirts of the torrid zone it doiiblcth and goeth back
again, and so maketh one long summer.


Experiment solitary touching the coloration of black and
tawny ]\Ioors.

399. The heat of the sun maketh men black in
some countries, as in ^Eithiopia and Guinea, etc. Fire
doth it not, as we see in glass-men, that are continu-
ally about the fire. The reason may be, because fire
doth lick up the spirits and blood of the body, so as
they exhale ; so that it ever maketh men look pale
and sallow ; but the sun, which is a gentler heat, doth
biit draw the blood to the outward parts ; and rather
concocteth it than soaketh it ; and therefore we see
that all iEthiopes are fleshy and plump, and have great
lips ; all which betoken moisture retained, and not
drawn out. We see also, that the Negroes are bred
in countries that have plenty of water, by rivers or
otherwise ; for Meroe, which was the metropolis of
^Ethiopia, was upon a great lake ; and Congo, where
the Negroes are, is full of rivers. And the confines
of the river Niger, where the Negroes also are, are
well watered : and the region above Cape Verde is
likewise moist, insomuch as it is pestilent through
moisture : but the countries of the Abyssenes, and
Barbary, and Peru, where they are tawny, and olivas-
ter, and pale, are generally more sandy and dry. As
for the jEthiopes, as they are plump and fleshy, so, it
may be, they are sanguine and ruddy-coloured, if their
black skin would suffer it to be seen.

Experiment solitary touching motion after the instant of

400. Some creatures do move a good while after
their head is off ; as birds : some a very little time ;
as men and all beasts : some move, though cut in se-
veral pieces ; as snakes, eels, worms, flies, etc. First
therefore it is certain, that the immediate cause of
death is the resolution or extinguishment of the spirits ;
and that the destruction or corruption of the organs
is but the mediate cause. But some organs are so
peremptorily necessary, that the extinguishment of the
spirits doth speedily follow ; but yet so as there is an
interim of a small time. It is reported by one of the


ancients of credit, that a sacrificed beast hath lowed
after the heart hatli been severed ; and it is a report
also of credit, that the head of a pig hath been opened,
and the brain put into the palm of a man's hand,
trembling, without breaking any part of it, or sever-
ing it from the marrow of the back-bone; during which
time the pig hath been, in all appearance, stark dead,
and without motion ; and after a small time the brain
hath been replaced, and the skull of the pig closed,
and the pig hath a little after gone about. Aiiid cer-
tain it is, that an eye upon revenge hath been thrust
forth, so as it hanged a pretty distance by the visual
nerve ; and during that time the eye hath been with-
out any power of sight ; and yet after being replaced
recovered sight. Now the spirits are chiefly in the
head and cells of the brain, which in men and beasts
are large ; and therefore, when the head is off, they
move little or nothing. But birds have small heads,
and therefore the spirits are a little more dispersed
in the sinews, whereby motion remaineth in them a
little longer ; insomuch, as it is extant in story, that
an emperor of Rome, to shew the certainty of his hand,
did shoot a great forked arrow at an ostrich, as she ran
swiftly upon the stage, and struck off her head ; and
yet she continued the race a little way with the head
off. As for worms, and flies, and eels, the spirits are
diffused almost all over ; and therefore they move in
their several pieces.



Experiments in consort touching the acceleration of

We will now inquire of plants or vegetables : and
we shall do it with diligence. They are the principal
part of the third day's work. They are the first /?ro-
ducat, which is the word of animation : for the other
words are but the words of essence : and they are of
excellent and general use for food, medicine, and a num-
ber of mechanical arts.

401. There were sown in a bed, turnip-seed, radish-
seed, wheat, cucumber-seed, and peas. The bed we
call a hot-bed, and the manner of it is this : there was
taken horse- dung, old and well rotted ; this was laid
upon a bank half a foot high, and supported round
about with planks ; and upon the top was cast sifted
earth, some two fingers deep ; and then the seed
sprinkled upon it, having been steeped all night in
water mixed with cow-dung. The turnip-seed and
the wheat came up half an inch above ground within
two days after, without any watering. The rest the
third day. The experiment was made in October ;
and, it may be, in tlie spring, the accelerating would
have been the speedier. This is a noble experiment;
for without this help they would have been four times
as long in coming uj). But there dotli not occur to
me, at this present, any use thereof for profit ; except
it should be for sowing of peas, which have their price
very much increased by the early coming. It may be
tried also with cherries, strawberries, and other fruit,
which are dearest when tliey come early.

402. There was v/heat steeped in water mixed with
cow-dung; other in water mixed with horse-dung;


other in water mixed with pigeon-dung ; other in
urine of man ; other in water mixed with chalk pow-
dered ; other in water mixed with soot ; other in wa-
ter mixed with aslics ; otlier in water mixed with bay-
salt ; other in claret wine ; other in malmsey ; other
in spirit of wine. The proportion of the mixture was
a fourth part of the ingredients to the water ; save
that there was not of the salt above an eighth part.
The urine, and wines, and spirit of wine, were simple
without mixture of water. The time of the steeping
was twelve hours. The time of the year October.
There was also other wheat sown unsteeped, but wa-
tered twice a day with warm water. There was also
other wheat sown simple, to compare it v^^ith the rest.
The event was ; that those that were in the mixture
of dung, and urine, and soot, chalk, ashes, and salt,
came up within six days : and those that afterwards
proved the highest, thickest, and most lusty, were first
the urine ; and then the dungs ; next the chalk ; next
the soot ; next the ashes ; next the salt ; next the
wheat simple of itself, unsteeped and unwatered ; next
tli6 watered twice a day with warm water ; next the
claret wine. So that these three last were slower than
the ordinary wheat of itself; and this culture did ra-
ther retard than advance. As for those that were
steeped in malmsey, and spirit of wine, they came not
up at all. This is a rich experiment for profit ; for
the most of the steepings arc cheap things ; and the

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) → online text (page 40 of 52)